26 June 2011

Would You Read This Book?

I'm planning to spend a good part of the summer writing. The book, tentatively entitled, Conversations with Nishida: Organization, Leadership, and Transformation in a Complex World, will address questions such as: What is organization? What does it mean to lead in the contemporary world? How can we effect organizational transformation, both in the microcosm of individual groups and in the macrocosm of society at large?

The style of the book would be a series of conversations with a Zen master character, based loosely on the Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, from whom I obtained the idea of ba - a place of common sensibility, common understanding, common values and common volition to action - that I use in my work. My question to YOU is, would you read a book that deals with these questions, based on this reasoning:
Human behaviour and the social conditions in which we act are often considered as conforming to some “law,” almost as if people’s interactions are subject to a seemingly immutable law of nature. Human social systems – education, business, politics, and the like – are often modelled after such behaviours-as-laws that seek to explain and predict why and how people will interact in specific ways under particular circumstances. However, in human social systems there are no laws of gravity, thermodynamics, or relativity—laws that explain human phenomena that exist outside of, apart, and separate from the people that enact them. At one time in history, the dominant thinking asserted that the Sun travelled around the Earth; much to the chagrin of the medieval Church, the Sun (not to mention other natural systems) did not quite care about the dictates of the Pope (nor the findings of Copernicus and Galileo, for that matter!). Quantum entanglement notwithstanding, natural systems exist and behave quite apart from our limited, all-too-human understanding of them.

On the other hand, models and conceptions of human systems care very much about the dominant thinking of humans who participate in them. In this sense, our social systems of business and commerce, knowledge and education, politics and governance, and organization and leadership are self-generative: in other words, the way we think about our social systems actually creates those social systems. What has been especially true throughout the millennia is that, as society’s means of social engagement and interaction have changed, so too have the fundamental structuring institutions – the aforementioned social systems – of that society likewise changed. Further, as these social systems change and become more widely adopted and increasingly taken for granted as aspects of “human nature,” the formerly dominant systems – those institutions that simultaneously defined and were defined by the way things were – seem increasingly anachronistic and out-of-place in the contemporary world.

We can each, individually and collectively, simply accept the changes that seem to be washing over, and imposing their will upon us. We can accept the interpretation and implications of these changes asserted by corporate, political, and other powerful interests that may or may not be beneficial for humankind overall. Alternatively, we can become aware of the transformative effects emerging throughout our contemporary world and begin to correspondingly transform our mental models of human behaviours throughout the social systems that define a society. In other words, we have the power and ability to reshape our understanding of organization, leadership, and the nature of transformation. We therefore have the ability to reshape our world.
So, is there any interest out there to read more about this?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is a promising project. I have already translated your "The cultural paradox of the global village" and am ready to translate this as well.